The House of Representatives will vote next week on whether to require anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members and their staff.
The Senate has already approved a measure which mandates all senators, staff, and interns to receive training on preventing sexual harassment. This vote comes on the heels of a myriad of sexual harassment accusations have named politicians such as Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers, Democratic Senator of Minnesota Al Franken, and Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, among the named perpetrators.
Up until now, sexual harassment training has been optional and rarely required on Capitol Hill, reports the Washington Post. House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper, spoke on Friday as one of the resolution's co-sponsors saying, "Since becoming Chairman in January, I have made it a priority to improve the overall professionalism of the House of Representatives. Instituting mandatory training is a first step in ensuring we are creating a safe and productive environment for everyone in the House."
For years, California Democrat Jackie Speier has been trying to get Congress to adopt a similar mandate. Lawmakers in the past have ignored Speier, a longtime anti-sexual harassment advocate, but it would seem that the current focus on harassment and assault has given the measure the much needed momentum it has needed to pass.
This is unlikely to be a catch-all fix for GOP leaders who have been feeling the pressure to address the secrecy surrounding harassment in Congress. Recent news reports have uncovered that legislative aides have an abysmal lack of options for recourse when it comes to reporting fellow staffers or lawmakers for harassment leaving many to remain quiet out of fear of retribution. Speier is also pushing for reforms to be made to the Office of Compliance which handles workplace disputes for Congress.
If passed, each member and employee would receive training within the first 90 days of each Congressional session, becoming a member, or becoming an employee. Each office would be required to display a poster created by the Office of Compliance that outlines employees' legal rights as well as how they can report workplace violations.